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California legislative wrap-up: Newsom signs multiple bills

In a final flurry of activity this past week and on the final day to take action with legislation on his desk Newsom signs multiple bills

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Blade file photo California Governor Newsom with lawmakers (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In a final flurry of activity this past week and on the final day to take action with legislation on his desk, California Governor Gavin Newsom for signed multiple bills into law ranging from SB 1194 allows for multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms in cities that choose to pass such an ordinance to legislation to protect Civil Rights, Support Community Living for Californians with Disabilities. 

California to Speed Graduation, Offer Debt Cancellation at Community Colleges

“California is increasing resources, adding services, and advancing equity to boost graduation and transfer rates throughout our higher education systems,” said Governor Newsom. 

The bills signed will:

  • Ensure that students attending California Community Colleges enroll directly into transfer-level math and English courses, if their program requires it or they are seeking to transfer.
  • Expand supervised tutoring offered for foundational skills and transfer-level courses.
  • Offer debt cancellation to encourage students to re-enroll and enroll at community colleges, building on budget appropriations.

Senate Bill 1194 Public Restrooms: Building Standards Which Allows for Multi-Stall Gender Neutral Bathrooms

Newsom signed the bill into law on Thursday allowing cities to adopt the new regulations for multi-stall gender-neutral bathrooms by adopting ordinances. In addition, and to afford additional discretion to communities, cities can exclude certain occupancies from the bill’s requirements.

“I am overjoyed that the Governor has signed SB 1194 into law!” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Sepi Shyne. “I was proud to co-sponsor the City of West Hollywood Multi-Stall Gender Neutral Bathroom Ordinance, which made us the first city in the United States to move to require equity and safety in bathroom access for people with disabilities who have opposite sex caretakers, our transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming siblings, and same sex and single parents of opposite sex children. I worked with Senator Ben Allen and his staff, my colleague Councilmember John M. Erickson, and our City legislative staff to help shepherd SB 1194 through the legislature. California is now the first state in the nation to give cities local control to make the same choice West Hollywood did.” 

Legislation to Protect Sexual Assault Victims’ DNA Signed into Law

Newsom signed into law Senator Scott Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 1228, the Genetic Privacy for Sexual Assault Victims Act. It will take effect on January 1, 2023.

SB 1228 protects sexual assault survivors and other victims by prohibiting the retention of DNA profiles collected from victims by local law enforcement agencies — including rape kits for sexual assault survivors. It also prohibits victims’ DNA from being used for any purpose other than identifying the perpetrator of the crime. Thus, a victim’s DNA could not be used in the future against the victim.

“Today, California showed once again that we stand with survivors of sexual assault,” said Senator Wiener. “Sexual assault exams are key to law enforcement finding perpetrators. It is critical that we protect the integrity of that process and ensure that survivors’ DNA is kept private. This law is a meaningful change for those going through what are likely some of the worst moments of their life.”

SB 1228 is sponsored by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, the Prosecutors Alliance of California, and Black Women Revolt, an anti-domestic violence advocacy and resource group for Black women.

These protections help ensure the privacy of sexual assault survivors and promote public safety by encouraging survivors to report sexual violence. If a sexual assault survivor believes their rape kit DNA can be used against them in the future, they will have one more reason not to come forward and undergo an invasive rape kit examination.

SB 1228 was introduced following the discovery that a local law enforcement agency was retaining DNA collected from sexual assault survivors in its quality assurance database and then searching that database to incriminate survivors in unrelated crimes. Since the discovery of this practice, advocates for sexual assault survivors and victim rights have widely condemned the practice and called for legislative action. Congressman Adam Schiff has called for a federal investigation.

When victims report a sexual assault, they can consent to a sexual assault examination, also known as a rape kit. During this examination, biological evidence from bodily fluids, fingernail scrapings, and bite and scratch marks is collected from the victim’s body. The victim submits their own DNA sample in order to exclude their DNA from an investigation. In addition, reference samples of those who have close contact with the survivor—such as consensual sexual partners, family members, or other people living in the same household—may be collected as well to differentiate their DNA from that of the perpetrator.

Sexual assault is significantly under-reported; fewer than a quarter of sexual assault survivors come forward to report to police.  Of those survivors who do report, only a small percentage undergo the highly invasive process of sexual assault testing. Victims of sexual assault consent to their DNA collection for this purpose, not so that their DNA will be retained in a local law enforcement database permanently to be searched years later. Using victims’ DNA in order to potentially incriminate them in the future further dissuades sexual assault survivors from undergoing what is already a very difficult process.

SB 1228 protects sexual assault survivors and other victims by prohibiting the DNA profiles collected from victims from being used for any purpose other than aiding in identifying the perpetrator.  Local law enforcement agencies will also be prohibited from retaining and then searching victim DNA to incriminate them in unrelated crimes.

Federal law already prohibits the inclusion of victims’ DNA in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). However, there is no corresponding California state law to prohibit local law enforcement databases from retaining victims’ profiles and searching them years later for entirely different purposes. This legislation would remedy that by requiring DNA samples taken from victims to be used only for the sexual assault investigation. It would prohibit DNA samples from being included in any database that allows for a sample to be matched with DNA profiles obtained from crime scenes.

The bill would also instruct the Committee on Revision of the Penal Code to study whether additional steps are needed to protect the privacy of Californians who have submitted DNA samples to law enforcement, and determine whether a forensic oversight board is needed.

Assemblymembers Reggie Jones-Sawyer and Phil Ting are co-authors of this legislation.

Legislation to End Wrongful Convictions Due to Faulty Expert Witness Testimony Signed into Law

Newsom signed into law Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 467. SB 467, the End Wrongful Convictions Act, amends the standards used for evaluating expert testimony and forensics in court post-conviction. This law will take effect on January 1, 2023..

“The End Wrongful Convictions Act will get innocent people out of prison,” said Senator Wiener. “When anyone spends even a day in prison for a crime they did not commit, it’s a terrible miscarriage of justice. Now, we’ll have more tools to help exonerate anyone wrongfully convicted on the basis of outdated or flawed science. This is a victory for the integrity of our criminal justice system.”

“Senator Wiener continues to be a champion for the innocent by authoring and advocating for laws that both help the wrongfully convicted regain their freedom and prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place,” said Melissa O’Connell of the California Innocence Coalition.

SB 467 clarifies that the definition of false testimony includes expert opinions undermined by the state of scientific knowledge  and creates a path for the wrongfully convicted to obtain justice when their convictions were based on expert opinions about which a significant dispute has emerged or further developed regarding its validity.  The California Supreme Court has long recognized that “[l]ay jurors tend to give considerable weight to ‘scientific’ evidence when presented by ‘experts’ with impressive credentials” but emphasized “scientific proof may in some instances assume a posture of mystic infallibility in the eyes of a jury . . .”(People v. Kelly (1976) 17 Cal.3d 24, 31-32.)

Unreliable forensic science remains a leading cause of wrongful convictions, occurring in 45% of DNA exoneration cases nationwide, 24% of all exonerations in the nation and 15% of the California exoneration cases known since 1989. In these cases, “expert”  testimony that was either flawed or false forensic science,  or relied on scientific methods that are widely debated within the scientific community provided critical evidence leading to the conviction. In California, 70% of these innocent men and women were given life sentences; one was sentenced to death.

SB 467 is part of a larger slate of the California Innocence Coalition’s reform bills. Previously, Senator Wiener authored SB 923, which ensures that law enforcement use evidence-based procedures when obtaining eyewitness identification. Eyewitness misidentification is a leading contributor to wrongful convictions proven with DNA evidence. Before SB 923 was signed into law, California had no statewide best practices for eyewitness identification and there were no evidence-based standards in place. With the passage of SB 467, California takes a giant step forward to address concerns set forth by the scientific community itself as well as to allow our courts to remain lockstep with advancements in science

SB 467 is sponsored by the California Innocence Coalition, which includes the Northern California Innocence Project, the California Innocence Project and the Loyola Project for the Innocent.

Legislation to Expedite Sustainable Transportation Projects Signed into Law

Newsom signed into law Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)’s Senate Bill 922. It will become law on January 1, 2023. SB 922 extends and improves upon Senator Wiener’s previous legislation (SB 288, 2020) to expedite bike, pedestrian, light rail, and rapid bus projects by exempting these environmentally sustainable projects from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). SB 922 will accelerate approval of sustainable, climate-friendly transportation projects.

In the short time – just 18 months – that SB 288 has been in place, 15 projects have been streamlined in various parts of the state. Another 20 projects are currently under consideration for streamlined treatment. Transit agencies from around the state, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, AC Transit, and CalTrain, have invoked this streamlining. Other transit agencies that have made use of SB 288 include: Yuba-Sutter Transit, Tahoe Transportation District, Napa Valley Transportation Authority, Santa Rosa CityBus, Fairfield and Suisun Transit, Monterey-Salinas Transit District, Culver City CityBus, Long Beach Transit, and Riverside Transit Authority. Streamlined projects include protected pedestrian walkways and bike lanes, bus rapid transit projects, electric vehicle charging for buses, and more.

“Increasing sustainable transportation options – like biking, walking, and public transit – is incredibly important when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change,” said Senator Wiener. “SB 922 continues our work to make it easier to build these projects more quickly and at lower cost, and will get people out of their cars. This is great news for California and for our climate. Thank you, Governor Newsom.”

Free Books for Children, Support for Student Athletes and Creative Expression

Newsom signed SB 1183 by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), expanding Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Program to children statewide. Under the initiative, launched to inspire a love of reading at an early age, California children under the age of five will be eligible to enroll in the program to receive a free book every month through a direct mail program starting in June 2023. 

Joined virtually by award-winning rappers, record producers and record industry executives, Governor Newsom signed AB 2799 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), a first-in-the-nation bill that limits the use of creative expression like rap lyrics as evidence in criminal cases to protect against bias.

In a virtual ceremony, Governor Newsom signed AB 2747 by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-North Hollywood), which will make Olympians, Paralympians and elite Olympic hopefuls who train in California eligible for in-state tuition.

California Empowers Students

The Governor signed SB 997, SB 955, and SB 291 empowering students in California by:

  • Providing a seat at the table in local accountability plan processes.
  • Allowing an excused absence from school to engage in civic opportunities in their communities.
  • Adding two pupils with exceptional needs to the Advisory Commission on Special Education.

Newsom also signed AB 2806 by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) ensuring equitable treatment of children in state preschool and child care programs by prohibiting suspensions and expulsions except as a last resort. When a child is suspended or expelled, they do not receive the benefits that early learning and education provides and this disportionately impacts toddlers and preschoolers of color. AB 2806 aims to change this and support California’s youngest learners.   

Additionally, the Governor signed SB 1047 by Senator Monique Limόn (D-Santa Barbara) increasing access and stability for families to get the care and learning opportunities their kids need and are critical for young children to succeed.

Newsom Signs Legislation to Protect Civil Rights, Support Community Living for Californians with Disabilities 

Newsom signed AB 1663 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, which reforms California’s probate conservatorship system to enable disabled and older people needing support to care for themselves to pursue supported decision-making as a less restrictive alternative to conservatorship. The bill also makes it easier to end a conservatorship.

“Our state is committed to protecting civil rights and lifting up every Californian with the supports they need to thrive in their community,” said Newsom. “This measure is an important step to empower Californians with disabilities to get needed support in caring for themselves and their finances, while maintaining control over their lives to the greatest extent possible.”

AB 1663 establishes supported decision-making in statute as an alternative to probate conservatorship. This is a process in which adults with intellectual, developmental, dementia, and other disabilities who need support to care for themselves or their finances can consult with trusted supporters while making choices about their life, without jeopardizing their self-determination. The bill also requires that alternatives to conservatorship are included for consideration in a petition for conservatorship, and requires courts to provide conservatees with information regarding the rights that they retain. Under AB 1663, courts are allowed to terminate a conservatorship without a hearing if both the conservatee and conservator agree to termination.

“Everyone deserves to have control over the choices they make in their daily lives, including individuals with disabilities. AB 1663 prioritizes that right by emphasizing less-restrictive alternatives to probate conservatorships, specifically Supported Decision-Making. I am grateful that the Governor signed this important legislation today,” said Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego).

State law allows the courts to appoint a conservator for an adult when a third party such as law enforcement or Adult Protective Services is concerned about the health, safety or welfare of a person and there has been a comprehensive review of the individual’s circumstances. Information about recent actions by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to support individuals conserved by DDS can be found here.

Governor Newsom also signed AB 1195 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) which facilitates the hiring of people with disabilities within state government through the Limited Examination and Appointment Program (LEAP).

California raises wage replacement for new parents, sick workers

Newsom has signed a bill that will increase the amount of money workers receive under the state’s paid family and medical leave program, providing a boost that supporters say will ensure lower wage workers are not locked out of a benefit they are already paying for.

Beginning in 2025, the state will pay up to 90% in wage replacement for new parents and those who need to take time off to care for a seriously ill family member or themselves. Senate Bill 951 by Sen. María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) also ensures that the wage replacement will remain between 60% and 70% during the next two years after the rate was scheduled to return to 55% beginning Jan. 1.

California Expands Support for Working Families

Newsom today signed legislation to help hard-working Californians access family and disability leave benefits. SB 951 by Senator María Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) will boost leave benefits for lower- and middle-income employees to cover more of their regular income while they take much-needed time off to care for loved ones.

“California families and our state as a whole are stronger when workers have the support they need to care for themselves and their loved ones,” said Governor Newsom. “California created the first Paid Family Leave program in the nation 20 years ago, and today we’re taking an important step to ensure more low-wage workers, many of them women and people of color, can access the time off they’ve earned while still providing for their family.”

SB 951 extends increased wage replacement rates for State Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave that were set to sunset at the end of the year. Under the legislation’s phased increase in benefits, by 2025, workers earning less than the state’s average wage could receive up to 90% of their regular wages while taking leave.

SB 951 builds on the Governor’s action since taking office to bolster access to workplace leave, including legislation to expand job-protected family leave to millions more Californians, extend paid family leave benefits for a newborn child from 6 to 8 weeks and expand paid sick leave in response to COVID-19.

Yesterday, Governor Newsom signed AB 1041 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) which enables workers to take paid sick leave or family leave in order to care for any person designated by the employee, including non-family members. The Governor also signed AB 152 to extend COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave through the end of the year and AB 1949 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell) which allows workers to take job-protected bereavement leave.

Newsom Signs Legislation to Crack Down on the Sale of Stolen Goods Online

With online marketplaces selling stolen merchandise, Governor Newsom today signed legislation to strengthen transparency rules for high-volume, third-party sellers and provide greater tools for law enforcement to identify stolen items, often taken from doorsteps or shoplifted at retail stores. 

“We are tightening the spigot, reducing the sale of online illegal merchandise,” said the Governor. “By empowering consumers with the ability to identify stolen items for sale online and providing greater transparency for high-volume sellers, we are tackling this problem at the source. Thanks to the work of my partners in the Legislature, in California, we are addressing the crime we see affecting the nation through a multipronged approach focused on deterrence, enforcement, and prevention.”

Both SB 301 by state Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and AB 1700 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego) work to address the online sale of stolen merchandise. SB 301 calls for online marketplaces to require high-volume third-party sellers to provide greater information to protect consumers. These requirements include contact and bank account information, as well as a seller’s physical address. AB 1700 directs the Attorney General’s Office to dedicate a section of its website for individuals to report items found on online marketplaces, identified as possible stolen goods. The Attorney General will share this information with local law enforcement agencies. The bill will also require online marketplaces to display a link to the Attorney General’s webpage. 

The Governor also signed AB 2294 by Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr. (D-Los Angeles), which gives law enforcement the ability to keep in custody individuals suspected of organized retail theft. Under the current process, an individual arrested for a misdemeanor is typically released with a written notice or citation. This bill will allow for law enforcement to keep in custody a person arrested for a misdemeanor if they have been convicted of theft from a store in the last six-months, or if there is probable cause that the individual is guilty of participating in organized retail theft. 

Today’s bill signing comes on the heels of the Governor’s announcement of California’s Real Public Safety Plan, which includes hundreds of millions in funding to provide grants for local District Attorneys to address retail theft, establish a statewide organized theft team in the Attorney General’s Office, make permanent and expands the Organized Retail Theft Task Force led by CHP, and create the largest gun buyback program in the country. The plan also includes grants for local law enforcement, prosecutors, and small businesses victimized by retail theft. 

Fresh Start Act, to Remove Outstanding Restitution as a Barrier to Expungement

Newsom signed into law Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 1106, the Fresh Start Act. It will become law on January 1, 2023.

SB 1106 helps people clear their criminal records by ensuring outstanding restitution and restitution fines are not a barrier to expungement. Currently, people across California are frequently denied record sealing and expungement because they are poor and cannot afford to pay outstanding restitution and restitution fines. Restitution debt is often the only thing holding someone back from clearing their record and finding a job and housing. This exacerbates the cycle of poverty and criminalization of Black and brown communities, who are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system.

“This is a huge moment for anyone who has served their time and is looking to start over fresh,” said Senator Wiener. “Now, outstanding restitution debt won’t be a barrier to getting one’s record cleared. Formerly incarcerated people will be able to more easily access housing and jobs, which will ultimately help them pay off this debt. Thank you, Governor Newsom, for seeing the value of a fresh start.”

Two types of restitution payments are frequently imposed on anyone convicted of a crime. The first is a restitution fine, which is a fixed amount charged to anyone with a conviction regardless of the crime and its impact. Restitution fines can run in the thousands and even more than $10,000. The second is direct restitution, by which a court can order someone to compensate a victim for the harm caused to the victim.

When setting these amounts, courts are not required to take into account a person’s ability to pay that restitution. This means that victims of crime, who are awarded restitution, overwhelmingly receive either nothing or a small percentage of the restitution because a defendant lacks the resources to actually pay it.

Current law allows courts to deny a request for expungement of a conviction — even if the individual is otherwise eligible for expungement — if they have any outstanding unpaid restitution. A court can deny expungement on this basis even if the defendant is living in poverty.

This kind of barrier to reentry does not increase the likelihood that someone will pay off their restitution. In fact, blocking someone from clearing their record makes it even less likely that they’ll ever be in a position to pay restitution. A 2014 study by Stanford University and the San Jose State University Record Clearance Project found that the estimated benefits of expungement outweigh costs by about $5,800, per person, in one year – nearly $6,500 in today’s dollars.

Under SB 1106, people who have served their time would be able to clear their criminal records despite owing restitution, if they otherwise meet the criteria for that relief. SB 1106 does *not* cancel a person’s restitution debt. Rather, the legislation allows a person to clear their record and move forward in life despite being too poor to pay restitution.

The bill is sponsored by a multi-regional coalition focused on modifying the court fee system and ending wealth extraction through the criminal legal system, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities, inflicting life-long monetary subjugation on them. The coalition is made up of legal advocates, formerly incarcerated people, policy experts, and movement building organizations led by impacted people.

Newsom signs game-changing elections bill, The Ballot DISCLOSE Act

Newsom signed AB 1416 – The Ballot DISCLOSE Act – a bill that will have a major positive impact on ballot measure transparency. All statewide ballot measures will now include a list of supporters and opponents on the ballot itself. Lead authors were Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas).

“This bill is a colossal game changer for California elections because voters will now be able to make more informed choices on ballot measures,” said Assembly Member Santiago. “Big money in politics continues to capitalize on the lack of ballot measure transparency, which directly affects the outcome of elections. As more and more ballot measures appear on general election ballots, it is imperative voters have the information they need to cast an informed vote on state and local ballot measures. The Ballot DISCLOSE Act will bring greater transparency and democracy to the ballot box on Election Day.”

“This law will vastly improve voters making an informed choice when voting, and finally root out the special interest that lurk in the shadows seeking to mislead the public,” said Senator Stern.

“Governor Newsom’s signature of the Ballot DISCLOSE Act will ensure that every Californian voter will know key supporters and opponents of ballot measures when they vote, just like every legislator when they vote and the Governor when he signs or vetoes bills.  This will be true no matter what voters’ life circumstances and no matter how lopsided the campaign spending,” said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, sponsor of AB 1416.  “Every Californian who cares about fairness in democracy owes a debt of gratitude to Governor Newsom, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, Senator Henry Stern, and all the other bold leaders in the California Legislature who helped AB 1416 pass.”

AB 1416 will bring greater transparency to ballot measures while providing voters with relevant information on Election Day. Specifically, this bill would require a voter’s ballot to include a short list of those who support and oppose each statewide ballot measure, submitted by the proponents and opponents who submit the official ballot arguments. Each list is limited to no more than 125 characters, with rules to avoid political parties and newly created “sham organizations” from being listed. Local ballot measures will be required to have similar lists of supporters and opponents, but with Board of Supervisors allowed to opt out of local measures if they choose.

This bill will take effect on January 1, 2023.

Newsom signs bill to raise fines on health plans for patient protection violations

The Governor signed SB 858 by Senator Scott Wiener updating penalty amounts that the state can levy on health plans that don’t meet state consumer protection standards. It will go into effect on January 1, 2024.

Health plan accountability is critically important: current fine levels were set in the 1970s and are so low they can be viewed as a cost of doing business. As a result, health plans, at times, illegally deny or delay coverage. For example, Kaiser Permanente has yet to come into compliance with a previous law authored by Senator Wiener (Senate Bill 221) — requiring timely access to mental health treatment — resulting in a strike by Kaiser mental health professionals.

“Californians rely on their health insurance to cover critical, even life-saving, care, and we must hold health plans accountable for following the rules and providing timely and adequate coverage,” said Senator Wiener. “California’s low, outdated fine levels allow health plans to view these fines as a mere cost of doing business. SB 858 makes clear that when we pass a law requiring coverage, we mean it.”

“For years health care corporations have been skirting consumer protection laws with minimal consequences. This new law will change the behavior of these health plans and ensure access to needed care for Californians,” said Diana Douglas, Health Access California’s director of policy and legislative advocacy.  

Despite strong consumer protections for Californians in health plans regulated at the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), many have still been denied or delayed in getting medically necessary services. Yet fine amounts for violations related to grievance handling and other specific consumer protections had not been updated for decades, all while health insurance premiums have not just doubled, but quadrupled since 1999. Some of these fine amounts had not been updated since 1975 when gas was 59 cents a gallon.

The new law increases the maximum fines from $2,500 per violation to $25,000 when they violate standards such as timely access to care, adequate network standards, language access, behavioral health care services, gender-affirming care, or other consumer protections.

Even for the biggest, headline-making penalties in recent years, the fines didn’t necessarily match the severity and breadth of the violations. Just this year, L.A. Care was fined a historic $35 million by DMHC for failure to appropriately handle grievances and for a severe backlog of authorization requests for services over a five year span. However, with over 67,000 grievances and over 9,000 requests for authorization, this seemingly large fine amounted to only a few hundred dollars per instance—essentially less than a speeding ticket for delaying or denying care to a patient. Meanwhile, the plan reported a tangible net equity of over $1 billion, an amount $923 million over that which is required by law

This new law will give DMHC the additional authority to levy higher fines and impose corrective action plans when necessary. It will also modernize penalty amounts every 5 years, and updates the methodology to ensure the penalty amounts reflect the true harm caused to enrollees. 

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California

New California law requires bars & nightclubs to offer ‘roofie’ tests

Bars & nightclubs who do not comply with the new law could face administrative actions impacting their licenses

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Screenshot/YouTube ABC7 Bay Area

SACRAMENTO – A new law mandating certain alcoholic beverage license holders to offer drug testing devices for sale or at no cost to patrons will take effect across California beginning July 1.

AB 1013 requires establishments with a license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to have signage displayed in a prominent and conspicuous location, letting patrons know that drug testing kits are available to test for common date-rape drugs, often referred to as ‘roofies.’

The required signage displays a message reading, “Don’t get roofied! Drink spiking drug test kits available here. Ask a staff member for details.” A sample sign is available on ABC’s website and can be downloaded and printed by licensees.

The new law impacts approximately 2,400 licensees across California. Type 48 licenses are issued to bars and night clubs. The license authorizes the sale of beer, wine, and distilled spirits for consumption on the premises where sold. Minors are not allowed on the premises, and food service is not required.

Licensees will be responsible for procuring testing kits. ABC does not sell or provide kits, and does not recommend or endorse any specific company that does.

Additionally, Type 48 licensed premises must either offer the drug testing devices for sale to customers at a price not to exceed a reasonable amount based on the wholesale cost, or be given to customers free of charge.

Drug testing devices could include test strips, stickers, straws or other devices that can detect the presence of controlled substances in drinks. These substances could include flunitrazepam, ketamine, and gamma hydroxybutyric acid.

License holders who do not comply with the new law could face administrative actions impacting their licenses. For more information please visit ABC’s industry advisory Type 48 Licenses New Signage and Product Requirements page.

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Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott donates to Calif. LGBTQ non-profits

About $137 million went to organizations that serve Californians including LGBTQ+ groups like the LGBTQ Center Long Beach

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Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott (Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

LOS ANGELES – Billionaire philanthropist Mackenzie Scott announced last week she would donate about $640 million to 341 charities nationwide. The 53-year-old with an estimated personal wealth of $36.3 billion has given away $16.5 billion from the fortune she gained after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019.

In a statement posted to her Yield Giving website on March 19, Scott said:

“From a pool of over 6,000 applicants, each of these 361 community-led non-profits was elevated by peer organizations and a round-2 evaluation panel for their outstanding work advancing the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means, and groups who have met with discrimination and other systemic obstacles. Grateful to Lever for Change and everyone on the evaluation and implementation teams for their roles in creating this pathway to support for people working to improve access to foundational resources in their communities. They are vital agents of change.”

In California, her gift giving organization on its website listed that about $137 million went to non-profits that serve the Golden State’s residents including several LGBTQ+ organizations.

The Associated Press reported the philanthropist typically donates to organizations after privately researching them, but this time, she partnered with the philanthropic group Lever for Change to analyze over 6,000 applicants after announcing an open call.

What started as a plan to donate $1 million each to 250 charities nationwide ended up doubling, with about 279 organizations receiving a $2 million donation and the rest receiving $1 million.

Among those receiving funding were: LGBTQ Center Long Beach which received $2 million, Equal Rights Advocates $2 million, Sacramento LGBT Community Center $1 million, Openhouse $2 million, Pacific Center for Human Growth $2 million, and The Wall Las Memorias $1 million.

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Legislation to protect consumers against medical debt unveiled

Medical debt continues to increase and is a barrier to employment, housing, and the promotion of health care access and equity

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Photo Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Senator Monique Limón (D- Santa Barbara), and a coalition of prominent consumer advocacy organizations today unveiled Senate Bill 1061 (SB 1061), legislation seeking to protect consumers from having their credit ruined by prohibiting medical debt from being reported on credit reports.

Credit reports are meant to gauge an individual’s ability to repay future debt. Medical debt is often unforeseen and not a reliable indicator of financial risk, yet it can unfairly prevent consumers from getting loans, renting an apartment, or getting a job.

“California families should not need to suffer from the harmful and unnecessary impacts resulting from having their credit damaged by medical debt. We have a straightforward solution and need to implement it here in California, just as we have seen some of our sister states do successfully,” said Attorney General Bonta. “There is no need for medical debt to appear on credit reports and we can stop the harmful spiral where people have unforeseen, catastrophic medical debt and become unhoused, unemployed, or without a vehicle to get to work. To reduce homelessness, to reduce food insecurity, and to address many of California’s other systemic issues, we must utilize upstream interventions that get to the crux of these problems. This is exactly what SB 1061 does.”

“Today a staggering 1 in 5 Californians has reported having medical debt with a disproportionate impact on women and mothers. This debt negatively impacts Californians credit history making it harder to secure a loan, buy a house, or be approved for a credit card,” said Senator Limón. “Without a robust health care system that covers necessary and often lifesaving medical expenses in a timely, accurate and comprehensive manner, medical debt should not be included on consumer’s credit reports.”

“We’ve known for years that medical debt doesn’t predict credit defaults, nor does it accurately predict a person’s desire and willingness to pay off loans,” said Jenn Engstrom, State Director of CALPIRG. “We’re hopeful that the legislation introduced by Senator Limón and sponsored by Attorney General Bonta will help create a fair credit system that doesn’t penalize people for life events they can’t control like getting sick.”

“Frontline nurses know that patients with medical debt, especially low-income Californians, delay or avoid medical care because they worry about the impact on their credit reports,” said California Nurses Association President Cathy Kennedy, RN. “SB 1061 will help to ensure patients will get the care they need by removing medical debt from credit reports. Then we will have a fair credit system that will not penalize patients when they get the care they need and deserve.” 

“People can’t control when they will get sick or hurt, and they can’t control when billing disputes and insurance problems will cause debts for expensive medical care to end up in collections,” said Chi Chi Wu, senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “This law is necessary to protect consumers from unmanageable and unpredictable medical debts and to address the disparate impact of medical debt on Black households.”

“Getting hit with medical debt isn’t like taking out a loan,” noted Ted Mermin, director of the California Low-Income Consumer Coalition. “It’s not voluntary, it doesn’t predict how creditworthy you are, and all too often the amount you’re charged is something the healthcare provider basically made up. But there’s nothing fictional about the serious negative impact medical debt can have on consumers’ credit reports.”

“The Consumer Federation of California is pleased to be a co-sponsor of SB 1061 and work with Senator Limón, Attorney General Bonta and all the other fine groups working to enhance consumer protection when it comes to medical debt,” said Robert Herrell, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. “Simply put, California is falling behind in consumer protection in this area. States like New York and Colorado are leading the way. Those states have realized that medical debt shouldn’t be an anchor dragging consumers down, both personally and via their credit worthiness. California must do better for consumers and this bill is an important step in that direction. This bill will put California back at the front of the line when it comes to consumer protection against medical debt ruining their lives.”

“Health care costs are rising, forcing more and more Californians to delay or skip care in fear of getting an expensive medical bill that can lead to debt,” said Katie Van Deynze, policy and legislative advocate for Health Access California, a co-sponsor of the bill. “Black, Latino and low-income Californians disproportionately have medical debt, and counting it against credit exacerbates inequities in health, housing, employment and more. SB 1061 will give all Californians more peace of mind to seek the care they need knowing it will not negatively affect their credit and their future.”

The bill sponsored by Attorney General Rob Bonta, the National Consumer Law Center, the CA Nurses Association, Health Access CA, Consumer Federation of CA, CA Low Income Consumer Coalition, Cal-PIRG, and authored by Senator Limón states that:

  • Health care providers should not provide information regarding a patient’s medical debt to a credit reporting agency. 
  • Health care providers should include a provision in any contract entered into with a collection agency that prohibits the reporting of any information regarding a patient’s medical debt to a consumer credit reporting agency.
  • Credit reporting agencies should not accept, store, or disclose any information concerning a medical debt.

Medical debt continues to increase and is a barrier to employment, housing, and the promotion of health care access and equity. The Urban Institute reported 7.8% of California consumers with a credit report had a medical debt listed on it, increasing to 8.5% for Black Californians.

People with medical debt are more likely to say debt has caused them to be turned down for a rental or a mortgage than people with student loans or credit card debt, increasing their risk of homelessness or being forced to live in substandard housing.

Debt can also create barriers for finding employment as employers often use credit reports as a basis for hiring decisions, which in turn, makes it even more difficult to pay off medical debt. Both Colorado and New York have passed laws that prohibit medical debt from appearing on credit reports. In September 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a rulemaking process to remove medical bills from consumers’ credit reports.

Text for the proposed bill can be found here

Medical Debt in LA County Baseline Report and Action Plan, June 2023

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State launches 1st-of-its-kind council to create thousands of jobs 

The California Jobs First Council is an integral part of California’s broader strategy to prepare students and workers for high-paying careers

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California Governor Gavin Newsom greets workers at the Species Conservation Habitat Project in Southern California's Salton Sea region, 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the creation of the California Jobs First Council and operational plan focused on streamlining the state’s economic and workforce development programs to create more jobs, faster.

The Council and operational plan will guide the state’s investments in economic and workforce development to create more family-supporting jobs and prioritize industry sectors for future growth.

Co-chaired by Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor to Governor Newsom and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business & Economic Development, and Stewart Knox, Secretary of Labor & Workforce Development, the California Jobs First Council will bring together various state entities, including:

  • Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research: promoting alignment with General Plan guidelines and land use policies
  • Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency: representing nature-based solutions and clean energy industries
  • Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture: representing the agriculture industry
  • Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency: representing the circular economy
  • Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency: representing the healthcare industry and promoting jobs for disabled and disadvantaged workers
  • Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs: representing the more than 1.6 million former service members that reside in the state
  • President of the Public Utilities Commission: representing opportunities to advance California’s clean energy workforce of the future and economic opportunities for communities

 “California has created more opportunities, more jobs, and more businesses than any other state, but we need to ensure that we’re all moving forward together. Through this new council and these investments, we’re aligning all of our economic resources to create more jobs, faster for Californians in every community,” Governor Newsom said.

“The California Jobs First Council is another piece of the puzzle in the Governor’s pursuit of creating a California For All,” said Myers. “I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to align strategic investments that further economic growth and job creation in every region of California.”

Graphic via the Office of the Governor

The Council will coordinate the development of a statewide industrial strategy that includes a statewide economic snapshot and identification of priority sectors, a statewide projects portfolio, a business expansion, attraction, and retention strategy, and a workforce development strategy.

The California Jobs First Council will also support the regional Jobs First Collaboratives to expand industry and create jobs locally.

The California Jobs First Council is an integral component of California’s broader strategy to prepare students and workers for high-paying careers. The Council will work alongside the Council for Career Education and in line with the Governor’s 2023 Executive Order that directed the creation of a Master Plan for Career Education to ensure that Californians have career pathways, develop the skills and find even more opportunities to be full beneficiaries of our state’s economy. 

The Master Plan is largely aimed at aligning and simplifying the K-12, university, and workforce systems in California to support greater access to career education and jobs for all Californians. In connection with the Master Plan for Career Education, the Jobs First Operational Plan will highlight the ways in which workforce development can and should be a tool used by the State and the regional Jobs First Collaboratives to help Californians, particularly the most disinvested communities, in meeting the specific skillset needs of the State’s and our regions’ priority industry sectors.

In 2021, Newsom launched the $600 million Regional Investment Initiative (formerly the Community Economic Resilience Fund, or CERF) to create high-quality, accessible jobs and help build resilience to the effects of climate change and other global disruptions impacting the state’s diverse regional economies.

This investment has supported the creation of Jobs First Collaboratives in each of the state’s 13 economic regions, with representation from a wide variety of community partners including labor, business, local government, education, environmental justice, community organizations and more. These Collaboratives are in the process of developing roadmaps, including a strategy and recommended series of investments, for their respective regions.

Today, Governor Newsom announced that the state has awarded $14 million to each of the 13 Jobs First Collaboratives – $182 million total – to invest in sector-specific pre-development activities, enabling regions to take projects from exploratory and last-mile to ready-to-go projects that can access local, state, and federal funds, as well as private and philanthropic investments. The 13 Jobs First Collaboratives cover every region of the state: North State, Capitol, Redwood Region, Bay Area, North San Joaquin Valley, Eastern Sierra, Central San Joaquin Valley, Orange County, Los Angeles County, Kern County, Central Coast, Inland Southern California, and the Southern Border.

“California Jobs First represents a very intentional, inclusive approach to economic and workforce development,” said Stewart Knox, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency. “By maximizing state resources and investments, the state is empowering communities to chart their own futures in a manner that is inclusive and equitable.”

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Newsom announces Project Homekey funds another 370 homes

Newsom announced 6 new Homekey projects, creating 370 affordable homes to serve individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the state

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new Homekey grant awards for six new projects that will create an additional 370 homes for Californians at risk of or experiencing homelessness. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

OAKLAND – Today, in Oakland, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new Homekey grant awards for six new projects that will create an additional 370 homes for Californians at risk of or experiencing homelessness, including several developments focused on young people transitioning to adulthood.

Communities benefiting from these new awards include Oakland, Fresno, San Diego, Yuba City, and Los Angeles.

“Homekey continues to deliver needed housing faster for Californians struggling with homelessness,” Newsom told reporters at a press conference. “By utilizing existing facilities including hotels, motels and former office spaces, properties are being quickly transformed into housing — helping to solve the homelessness crisis while creating welcoming places for Californians to call home,” the governor added.

Today’s $99.9 million in grants is administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) and will create new affordable housing in the cities  of Oakland, Fresno, San Diego, Yuba City, as well as the city and county of Los Angeles. To date, this innovative program has funded 250 projects that will include 15,319 homes, serving more than 167,164 Californians over the projects’ lifetimes.

“The homes created through the Governor’s Homekey initiative will change lives for generations,” said Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency Secretary Tomiquia Moss. “Through the projects awarded so far, more than 167,000 vulnerable Californians will be relieved of the burden of housing insecurity, providing them with a solid foundation – and critical services – from which to explore opportunities that once may have seemed out of reach.”

“Homekey continues to deliver needed housing faster for Californians struggling with homelessness,” Newsom told reporters at a press conference in Oakland Friday. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“The evolution of Homekey has inspired creativity among localities and developers to embrace new building models that bring critical affordable housing online more quickly,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “Through Homekey, we are now able to provide the foundation of housing stability to young people entering adulthood without the family support so many take for granted, as demonstrated through several projects today.”

The project the Governor toured in Oakland today is a former Quality Inn that was previously awarded $20.4 million and will be converted to housing with a total of 104 permanent units serving individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, as well as homeless youth. In total, the community of Oakland has received $133.5 million in Homekey funding.

Homekey originated as Project Roomkey early in the COVID-19 pandemic as an effort to provide shelter to unhoused Californians in a non-congregate setting. While early Homekey projects focused on hotel and motel conversions, projects in the third round of Homekey have included a hospital conversion, new builds, and innovative modular construction models. The program goal remains to rapidly expand availability of affordable housing to help Californians exit or prevent homelessness.

To learn more about today’s awardees, click here.

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Gov. Newsom & First Partner induct 17th California Hall of Fame

Gov. Newsom & Jennifer Siebel Newsom yesterday joined the California Museum to induct the 17th class of the California Hall of Fame

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California Hall of Fame 17th Class 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom yesterday joined the California Museum to induct the 17th class of the California Hall of Fame.

California Hall of Famers Los Lobos (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Leon E. Panetta (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famers The Go-Go’s (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Thelton E. Henderson (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Helene An (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)
California Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

The inductees of the California Hall of Fame 17th class are:

  • HELENE AN: Master chef and the Mother of Fusion Cuisine
  • WILLIE L. BROWN, JR.: History-making Mayor of San Francisco and Speaker of the California Assembly
  • VINTON G. CERF: Renowned computer scientist and a Father of the Internet
  • AVA DUVERNAY: Visionary storyteller and award-winning filmmaker
  • THE GO-GO’S: Chart-topping all-female pop punk band
  • THELTON E. HENDERSON: Revered federal judge and civil rights leader
  • LOS LOBOS: Iconic Chicano rock band
  • CHERYL MILLER: Legendary basketball player and sports broadcaster
  • LEON E. PANETTA: Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and dedicated public servant
  • BRENDA WAY: Celebrated artistic director and choreographer

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Major storms forecast with heavy rain, flooding & mountain snow

The first in a series of storms will bring rain and mountain snow Wednesday, a second and likely much stronger storm will arrive Sunday

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National Weather Service/KTLA satellite/radar composite screenshot of U.S. West Coast showing the atmospheric river moving toward California on Jan. 30, 2024.

OXNARD, Calif. – The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for the vast majority of California Tuesday as the likelihood of heavy rain, thunderstorms and localized flooding is expected as two separate storm systems will impact the state starting late Tuesday.

“This is a big storm,” says KTLA 5 News meteorologist Henry DiCarlo. “The cold front stretches all the way from Canada into Mexico.”

This series of storms will hit the state for the next 10 days and is expected to bring significant rain, high winds, deep snow as well as potential flash flooding and power outages.

The atmospheric river is slated to bring cooler temperatures with rain totals of two to three inches are forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California’s coastal areas and inland valleys. The Weather Service said the Central Coast, foothills and mountains could see four to five inches of rain with a likelihood of thunderstorms and localized flooding.

Several inches of snow are likely across the higher mountain elevations late Wednesday night and into Thursday. Snow levels during the main rain band are expected to be at 7000 feet or higher, then drop off Thursday afternoon and evening to around 6000 feet.

Gusty south to southeast winds expected in the mountains of up to 60-70 miles per hour. 

This weather pattern will continue in the next few weeks, with above normal precipitation likely statewide, especially across Southern California. At the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the State Operations Center in Mather is being activated to coordinate a unified response to these storms across state, local and federal agencies.

“The state is working around the clock with our local partners to deploy life-saving equipment and resources statewide. With more storms on the horizon, we’ll continue to mobilize every available resource to protect Californians,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in statement released by his office Tuesday afternoon.

The Governor has also directed the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to lead an early, proactive push to preposition state personnel and equipment into the communities most at risk of damage before the worst of the storms arrive. The state is also taking action to prepare for potential flooding by activating the Flood Operations Center for increased coordination and utilizing California’s spillways where necessary.  

Storm Timing

A chart showing expected rain timing and intensity. Jan. 30, 2024. (Graphic/NWS)

“This storm has a large range of outcomes,” the National Weather Service acknowledged in its daily bulletin. The second round will impact California sometime between Sunday and Tuesday.

KTLA 5 News meteorologist DiCarlo cautioned that one possible outcome, shows the storm stalling off the Central Coast and bringing 12 to 24 hours of steady rain, which would increase the risk of flooding.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) issued the following tips:

  1. Stay connected. Californians are reminded to dial 311 to get help or ask questions. If you have a critical emergency, call 911. Stay informed by signing up for emergency alerts including warnings and evacuation notices. Go to CalAlerts.org to sign up to receive alerts from your county officials. Check in with loved ones and neighbors.
  2. Get your information from trusted sources. During a disaster, it’s critical to have accurate information. Check state and local government or emergency management websites and social media accounts for trusted information specific to your area. Local news outlets and meteorologist are also a good source of information. Be wary of posts from unknown sources on social platforms or from online ‘experts’ without credentials.
  3. Prepare for high winds. Before a high wind event: remove any dead trees or overhanging branches near structures, remove loose roofing material, bring in unsecured objects from patios and balconies, secure outdoor objects that could blow away, shutter windows securely and brace outside doors. During a high wind event: take cover next to a building or under shelter, stay away from windows, stay clear of roadways and train tracks, avoid elevated areas such as roofs, watch for flying debris.
  4. Travel safely. Avoid non-essential travel during the peak of the storm expected Sunday and Monday. If you must drive, download the QuickMap app or visit QuickMap (ca.gov)  to learn up-to-the-minute information on road conditions, traffic, closures, and more. Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Remember, just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  5. Be ready in case of power outagesTake inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity. Keep your devices charged. Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs if the power goes out such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for every household member. Also, plan accordingly for the potential of water outages.

Get more tips here.

Additional Resources

  • Storm Season Safety Guide: the state is sharing multilingual resources, deploying a network of community-based organizations through the Listos California campaign, and highlighting other work underway to protect at-risk communities this rainy season.
  • Prepare Yourself through Texts: Californians can sign up for a 5-lesson text message course through Listos California on what to do before, during and after floods, high winds, debris flows and other storm impacts. This course is available in English, Spanish, Hmong and Punjabi. Text “CAWINTER” to 20202 via SMS to sign up.
  • Visit National Weather Service for current weather patterns in your area.
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California vs Hate project: New informational materials released

CA vs Hate operates as a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal

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Graphic by the California Civil Rights Department.

SACRAMENTO – In response to the surge in reported hate crimes, the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has unveiled new informational materials aimed at connecting Californians with support through California vs Hate, the state’s anti-hate hotline and resource network.

As incidents of hate continue to rise, CA vs Hate offers a safe and anonymous platform for victims and witnesses to report acts of hate and access assistance, including mental health, financial, and legal services.

Governor Gavin Newsom expressed his commitment to eradicating hate from California, stating, “Hate does not belong in California. By expanding resources and tools, the California Civil Rights Department is making our communities safer and promoting healing. Report and find assistance using these resources today.”

CRD Director Kevin Kish emphasized California’s leadership in combating hate, urging citizens to take advantage of CA vs Hate. “Whether it’s at a place of worship, in a classroom, or anywhere else, there is no place for hate in our state. I encourage everyone to take advantage of California vs Hate to report and get support. Together, we can help ensure all of California’s communities get the assistance and healing they need.”

Officially launched by Governor Newsom last year, CA vs Hate is a direct response to the alarming increase in reported hate crimes in California. Recent years have seen hate crimes reach their highest levels since 2001, escalating by over 20% from 2021 to 2022. The conflict in the Middle East has further exacerbated the situation, with CA vs Hate noting a significant uptick in preliminary reports of hate in the three months following the conflict’s onset.

CRD’s efforts extend beyond the hotline, encompassing a multilingual digital, print, and radio ad campaign, community-specific outreach initiatives, and support for statewide civic action during United Against Hate Week. The newly highlighted informational materials include a one-page infographic outlining the reporting process and available resources, translations of CA vs Hate posters and social media graphics into over 20 languages, a fictional case study example for better understanding services, and virtual backgrounds for online meetings to promote awareness.

Historically, many hate crimes have gone unreported due to various factors, including fear of retaliation, lack of culturally competent resources, concerns about immigration consequences, and distrust of law enforcement. CA vs Hate addresses these challenges by offering a community-centered approach that allows individuals to report hate acts without engaging with the criminal legal system. The hotline services are confidential and free, irrespective of immigration status.

CA vs Hate operates as a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal. Reports can be made anonymously by calling (833) 866-4283 or 833-8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, or online at any time. The online portal supports reporting in 15 different languages, and the hotline accommodates reports in over 200 languages. Individuals in immediate danger or those wanting to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately should call 911.

For more information on CA vs Hate, please visit CAvsHate.org.


The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) is the state agency charged with enforcing California’s civil rights laws. CRD’s mission is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded programs and activities, and from hate violence and human trafficking. For more information, visit calcivilrights.ca.gov.

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210,000 Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants live in California

Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants to the U.S. may experience barriers to employment associated with legal status as well as added challenges

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East LA Library presents Mariachi Arcoiris during Hispanic Heritage Month. On National Coming Out Day, the first LGBTQ+ mariachi in the world performs & discusses the sensitive topic that is very taboo in the Hispanic community. (Photo: Mayra B. Vasquez/Los Angeles County)

LOS ANGELES – A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that there are 211,000 Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants in California, including 68,800 who do not have Green Cards. An estimated 85% of immigrants without Green Cards are undocumented.

The majority of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards live in Southern California, including 32% in Los Angeles and 34% outside of Los Angeles. Three-quarters (76%) of California’s Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years, and 42% have spent over half of their lives in the U.S.

Using data from the California Health Interview Survey, researchers examined the demographic, socioeconomic, and health characteristics of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants. Results show that Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are older, have less education, and have fewer economic resources than U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards live at less than 200% of the federal poverty level compared to 43% of their U.S.-born LGBTQ+ peers. Most (93%) Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants are in the workforce, with nearly one-third (32%) working in service occupations.

“Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants to the U.S. may experience barriers to employment associated with legal status, as well as added challenges related to LGBTQ+ stigma and racism,” said lead author Rubeen Guardado, Policy Analyst at the Williams Institute. “It’s critical that policies and programs address the intersectional needs of a heterogeneous Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrant population—particularly those who are most vulnerable due to lack of documentation.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Half of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards (cisgender and transgender) identify as bisexual (49%), 48% as gay/lesbian, and 3% identify as heterosexual and are also transgender.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards were born in Mexico, 24% are from Central America, and the remainder are from other parts of Latin America (9%) or elsewhere (1%).
  • About half (49%) of Latinx immigrants without Green Cards are under the age of 35 compared to three-quarters (76%) of U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people.
  • Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are twice as likely as their U.S.-born peers to have only a high school degree or less (73% vs. 34%, respectively).
  • Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards are more likely to rent (as opposed to own) their homes compared to U.S.-born Latinx LGBTQ+ people (77% vs. 54%) even though are older, on average, than their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • More than four out of 10 (44%) Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants without Green Cards have no health insurance, compared to 11% of their U.S.-born LGBTQ+ peers.


“More research on Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants is needed, including studies that explore differences in quality of life and access to support among undocumented LGBTQ+ Latinx immigrants by gender identity,” said co-author Kerith J. Conron, Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Research on the discrimination, harassment, and violence against Latinx LGBTQ+ immigrants experienced in their countries of origin, during migration, and within the U.S. would also be valuable, given the negative effects of such exposure on mental health.

Read the report

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California’s Project Homekey hits milestone: 15,000 homes created

Since the start of Homekey, the state has rapidly transformed office spaces, hotels, and other unused buildings into housing

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HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez & Gov. Gavin Newson toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Today, at a Homekey property in Costa Mesa, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state has created 15,000 housing units as part of Homekey, an effort launched in 2019 to rapidly house individuals experiencing homelessness. Approximately 163,260 individuals will be assisted with housing throughout the course of this program.

“Homekey is a national model for rapidly creating affordable housing for Californians in need. In a few short years, this initiative has created more than 15,000 homes, to help over 163,000 people. Homekey demonstrates what is possible when people think outside the box and refuse to accept the status quo,” said Governor Newsom

Governor Newsom toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units, primarily for veterans at risk of homelessness with an additional 10 units for individuals that meet the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) eligibility criteria. Each unit includes kitchenettes, appliances, and furniture among other features.

At this stop, the Governor also announced the latest awardees to receive grant funding from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). These communities include Oakland, San Bernardino, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and the counties of Lassen and Marin. This funding will support six projects in total at a cost of nearly $95.6 million and will create 396 affordable homes.

Gov. Gavin Newson toured a former Motel 6 that has been converted into 40 permanent Homekey units. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

“Over a three-year period, Homekey has funded projects that will provide housing security to more than 163,000 Californians over the decades to come,” said HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez. “The current set of awards includes housing dedicated to veterans, and the conversion of a shuttered hospital to shelter those experiencing homelessness. This program has allowed jurisdictions to get creative with adaptive reuse of existing spaces, and with providing a full array of services that help make homelessness rare, one time, and non-recurrent.”

Originally launched months into the COVID-19 pandemic as an extension of Project Roomkey – to curb the spread of disease among Californians in congregate shelters – Homekey funds additional building types and supports a broader population of people experiencing or at risk for homelessness. This includes young people transitioning to adulthood from foster care or an unsafe environment.

Homekey Round 3 grant funding – administered by HCD – is available to local public entities including cities, counties, tribes, and housing authorities to develop a broad range of housing types including hotels, motels, hostels, single-family homes, multifamily apartments, adult residential facilities, and modular housing, and to convert commercial properties and other existing buildings to permanent or interim housing.

HCD continues to review Homekey applications, and grants will be announced on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted.

To learn more about today’s announcement and awardees, click here.

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